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Published 05/11/2020 | Reading Time 6 min 34 sec
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Oklahoma State Conference National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), oppose the Oklahoma state legislators’ passing a law that amounts to voter suppression and violates the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments.
On Thursday, May 07, 2020 the Governor of Oklahoma, Kevin Stitt, signed a bill that says, “for the duration of the COVID-19 state of emergency, voters who wish to submit absentee ballots by mail will need to include a photocopy of their voter registration card or photo identification. Once the emergency declaration is over, absentee voters would then be required to have their voter registration card, photo identification and absentee ballots notarized by a notary public.”
The new law, signed by Gov. Stitt, requires all voters to have their private mail-in ballots to be exposed to notaries or an individual if they choose not to appear at these polling-places personally.
The Oklahoma State NAACP believes the new law is purposely intended to intimidate racial minorities from voting by mail. It deliberately imposes a discriminatory trade-off, which exposes a third party to the absentee ballots, versus when the in-person voter, can keep their voting choice private at the ballot box.
To have one’s mail-in ballots notarized is a conflict of interest due to the fact that your party might be different than the other party, meaning that he or she may be Republicans or Democrats, contrary against whom they are voting for and their rights shall be a privilege and a private moment, and to whom they chose to give their vote to and to what party.
Who is to say that this won’t negatively impact individuals down the road or if the notary knows someone at the county election board where all ballots are tallied up and accounted for during these election cycles?
Oklahoma Supreme Court did what was right. Now the legislature, once again, believes they know what is better than the State Supreme Court.
This legislation is the suppression of voter’s rights! African American voters are the only ethnic group whose voting rights must be reauthorized by Congress. The last reauthorization was in 2006 for 25 years.
This disproportionate impact on Black people is no accident; it has been rooted in systemic racism that dates to the Reconstruction Era. However, following the passage of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments which, respectively, banned slavery, except for people who have been convicted of a crime; established birthright U.S. citizenship; and gave Black men the right to vote, different states passed a flood of new or amended bans. These were in addition to other voting restrictions, such as poll taxes and literacy tests.
While poll taxes and literacy tests were abolished with the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, felony disenfranchisement laws in some form remain on the books in 48 states.
However, some individuals might have to pay a notary to have their absentee ballots notarized is no different than saying you must pay this poll tax.
The NAACP has been on the frontlines fighting for voting rights for disenfranchised Black Americans from the time of its conception. Privacy in voting was part of that fight.
When the state of Alabama legally challenged the NAACP for its membership list in 1956, which would have also exposed our voting members’ names to the KKK.
“In an opinion delivered by Justice John Marshall Harlan II, the Supreme Court decided in favor of the petitioners, holding that “Immunity from state scrutiny of petitioner’s membership lists is here so related to the right of petitioner’s members to pursue their lawful private interests privately and to associate freely with others in doing so as to come within the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment” and, further, that freedom to associate with organizations dedicated to the “advancement of beliefs and ideas” is an inseparable part of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment”.
The spirit of Oklahoma constitutional convention echoed in the racial language of its leader, William “Alfalfa Bill” Murray, who exclaimed that Blacks would always remain bootblacks, barbers, and farmers.
The future governor of Oklahoma believed that African Americans would never rise to the equal of Whites in the professions or become informed citizens capable of grappling with serious public questions. The unrestricted right to the ballot, however, did not come to all Black Oklahomans until the Civil Rights era of the 1960s. And here we are again in the year of 2020, Oklahoma fighting that same fight to protect Blacks and minority voters from the same exposure that would endanger their lives.
We are not comfortable with this decision at all and our rights are being challenged. Our members and community are concerned and have lost the trust of our government. and we understand their outrage — the possibility of being robbed of their vote since the legislature passes SB210 and signed by the governor within four hours of passing.
While our position is unwavering and clear, we are calling upon the State of Oklahoma to repeal this unconstitutional and discriminatory law, that violates the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth or we will aggressively challenge their decision in court.